HPS211H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Erasmus Darwin, Binomial Nomenclature, Mendelian InheritancePremium

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7 pages116 viewsWinter 2016

Department
History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
Course Code
HPS211H1
Professor
noahstemeroff
Lecture
5

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HPS211 – 02/10/2016
Readings p. 129 – 164
The Darwinian Revolution
-Rejected that creatures were divine creation
-Status of the human soul was threatened
-Abandoned the concept of a spiritual dimension
-Looked like it was trying to destroy traditional values and beliefs and plunge the world
into anarchy (creationist p.o.v.)
-Some believe it was a projection of the class he belonged to onto nature (Social
Darwinism)
-There was a sudden transition from creationism to evolutionism, the world converted to
natural selection
-Not the first to initiate discussion, radical writers were talking about how evolution was
founded on a law of progress
-Must be evaluated both in term of scientific advantages and its appeal and prejudice
inside and outside science
Design in the Natural World
-Argument for design, arguing that God was an intelligent designer who created the
animals
-Ray, looked at the adaptation of structure to function, wanted to provide a biological
taxonomy, looked for the rational pattern in God’s creation
-Linnaeus, modern system on biological taxonomy (binomial nomenclature), looked at is
as groups nesting within larger groups
-Evolution shaped by the assumption life ascends towards higher forms
Forerunners of Darwin?
-Some theories in the Enlightenment period do have the element of transformism but they
were usually thinking something quite different than what we see as evolution today
-Diderot, believed in spontaneous generation (inorganic nature could produce complex
living things)
-Leclerc, species have flexibility to adapt to surroundings, species making a genus have all
descended from one ancestor
-Erasmus Darwin, gradual development of life
-Lamarck, accepted spontaneous generation, each generation got slightly more complex,
there were no gaps marking distinct species (gaps were from missing info), wasn’t just a
chain, there was a second process distorting it, inheritance of acquired characteristics
(acquired characters have a slight chance of being inherited, like giraffes and the long
neck)
Interpreting the Fossil Record
-Cuvier, geological catastrophes wiped out the population then they migrated from
populations of no catastrophes
-Thought that complexity conceals a deeper underlying patters
-Owen, homology (the same combination of bones can make many animals), someone had
to arrange the bones
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-Agassiz, looked at the development of the human embryo (the stages of looking like a
fish, a reptile and a human), suggests the human is the end goal
-Sainte-Hillaire, Chambers, those who proposed radical thoughts, preparing the world for
Darwin
-Chambers, laws built into nature by its creator, progressive saltations (leaps)
Development of Darwin’s Theories
-Uniformitarian, the outcome of slow changes of driven by natural causes
-Evidence is South America that species competed with one another
-Things changed to adapt themselves to their environment (the finches being on different
islands)
-There was no automatic ladder of progress
-Looked at Malthus’ struggle for existence, those best adapted to change would be more
likely to survive and the next generation would be bred from better adapted parents
The Reception of Darwin’s Theory
-Huxley,
-Spencer, progress was the product of acts by individuals that concerned their own
wellbeing
-Important new fossils have been discovered that seemed to fit into evolutionists’
predictions
-Much of the science of this time was dismissed as overenthusiastic support
-Jenkin, asked questions about inheritance, questions that the genetics known couldn’t
answer at the time (traits would be inherited less and less ½ then a ¼ and so on)
-Wallace, one of the very few that were still defending Darwin in the 1880’s
Human Origins
-In the 1860’s there was still no plausible connection between apes and humans
-Philosophers began to create evolutionary philosophy hoping to trace the changes in
brains to describe the change from apes to humans
-Darwin, human conscience was an expression of social instincts that our ancestors had
due to evolution
Resurgence of Darwinism
-Many thought that large mutations caused enough variation for a new species to be born
-Weisman, Pearson, ideas pertaining to hereditary being the only source of character
-De Vries, mutation theory, (sudden appearance of new traits(
-Morgan, established the true nature of mutations, every now and again the codes change
and its altered to produce a different character, mutations keep a steady stream of genetic
variation, the ultimate source of random variation as postulated by Darwin
-Early Mendelians saw themselves as opposition of Darwinism
-Fisher, Haldane, Wright, Mayr all contributed to the new Darwinism
-Modern or evolutionary synthesis is born
Conclusions
-The first Darwin evolution was a movement towards an interpretation of an already
existing worldview
-Took a second revolution associated with Mendelian genetics to destroy developmental
evolution that went against Darwin’s proposals
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